Keep Your Home Energy Efficient with These Window Treatments

| June 17, 2016 | 0 Comments

window treatmentsA house without windows wouldn’t feel very homey – in fact, to some people it wouldn’t be much better than living in a cave, or a prison. They certainly increase our health and happiness, but there is a downside to our windows to the outside world.

Although windows provide us with inspiring views, light, and access to the outdoors, they can also be some of the most poorly insulated areas in your home. While you can always upgrade to new window models, you may prefer the more cost-effective solution of using tried and tested window treatments to minimize energy loss.

From solar films to a good set of drapes, modern window coverings act as more than just an attractive way to spruce up your home.

The shutters, blinds, shades, and films you see today offer a range of shading and sunning options that improve the aesthetic of your rooms; while providing an energy-efficient makeover. In fact, the DOE suggests that a simple set of drapes could be enough to reduce solar heat gain by 33%.

Nobody wants to deal with the stress of sky-high utility bills. So, instead of cranking up your heating or air conditioning, try the following steps to find the perfect window treatment instead.

Step 1: Prepare Your Home and Educate Yourself

Before applying energy-efficient window treatments to every room in your home, it’s important to seal air leaks that may be contributing to poor performance.

Foam weather-stripping and plastic tension strips are useful when it comes to managing leaks, and you can contact heating experts to conduct a professional installation on your behalf – often for a low price.

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With your windows prepped, educate yourself on the inevitable jargon you’ll encounter when shopping for window treatments. For instance, you’ll often see something called an “R-Factor” – a number that manufacturers use to measure a material’s heat transfer resistance.

When purchasing treatments, a higher R-factor is more beneficial in promoting energy savings.

Step 2: Start Simple with Shades

Energy-saving window treatments aren’t always complex developments. In fact, the Department of Energy recommends shades as the most effective and simple way to save energy in the home.

Not only do they come in a wide range of styles, but they also use different designs for specific functions. Solar shades are ideal for improving efficiency without obscuring the view, while dual shades – made up of an absorbent and reflective side – are perfect for maintaining consistent temperatures in the summer and winter months.

Recently, honeycomb shades have received attention, thanks to their layered design that traps air within individual cells.

Because air doesn’t conduct heat well, this shade creates a barrier against temperature-transfer between the room and the window. The only downside is that they do obstruct the view, but can be ideal in rooms that require additional privacy.

Step 3: Consider Blinds and Drapes

window treatmentsPleated, Roman, vertical, Venetian, and roller – all blind types can help prevent temperature transfer in your home. The two main options are blinds that attach inside the home, and blinds attached on the outside of the house.

When lowered and closed on a sunny day, reflective blinds can reduce heat gain by up to 45%.

Interior blinds can be adjusted throughout the day to lie open, closed, or partially closed, depending on the need to provide shade and control temperature.

Although more difficult to control, exterior blinds are more effective, as they block heat before it moves through the window in the first place. Because exterior blinds can be complex and costly to fit on older homes, they are generally a better option for new builds.

Used with (or instead of) blinds, drapes help to insulate a home from heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer. The best options for energy efficiency are drapes that use lining and interlining – and it’s important to consider the weight and color of fabric.

Blackout drapes can help you get a good night’s sleep by keeping a room dark, and also protect from the summer heat; while thermal drapes – which use a lining made of heavy materials – are ideal for keeping out the cold.

Step 4: Construct Awnings and Overhangs

Once you’ve distributed shades, drapes, and blinds around your home in the appropriate areas, it may be time to consider your house’s exterior from a new perspective. In sunny climates, west and south-facing windows benefit significantly from properly placed awnings.

According to the Consumer Energy Center, awnings can reduce heat buildup by 65-75%.  Many awnings on the market today are water resistant to prevent the build-up of mildew, and some use slats to allow for heat circulation. There are even retractable awnings, ideal for use during the winter months.

Roof overhangs operate in a similar fashion to awnings. If used properly, quality roof overhangs allow heat into your home during the winter, while blocking excessive heat in the summer.

As with most adaptations to a home, it’s a good idea to consult with a designer or architect with experience in passive solar design. An experienced professional will accurately take into account numerous factors including climate, latitude, window size, and more.

Step 5: Install Window Films and Mesh Screens

If you’re still searching for ways to maximize energy efficiency, high reflectivity window films may be the perfect solution. These films are best used on windows facing west and east; where the sun rises and sets.

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An energy saving film works by blocking out a portion of the sunlight – particularly useful if you want to prevent photos and upholstery from fading – but they still allow for enough light to properly illuminate a room.

Though effective at reducing your air conditioning bill in the summer, window films aren’t appropriate for climates that experience cold winters, as they prevent natural light from warming the house.

An alternative option may be a mesh window screen, which can be used and removed as necessary. Mesh screens diffuse solar radiation, in order to reduce heat gain for windows that receive light all year round.

Choosing the Ideal Window Treatment

Often, the perfect solution for energy efficiency within your home involves a combination of several of the above treatments. It’s important to take crucial factors into account when making adaptations to your property; including your climate, the placement of your home, and the amount of passive solar energy you are frequently exposed to.

You don’t need to install entirely new windows to make your home more eco-friendly, increase comfort year-round, and save on your utility bill. With the right window treatments, you can enjoy the way your windows light up your home, without worrying about all of that energy loss!

What are your favorite methods for maintaining energy efficiency through window treatments? Let us know in the comments below!

Contributed By: Don Teemsma, President/CEO of Ideal Plumbing, Heating, Air & Electrical brings decades of experience and expertise in the plumbing, HVAC, electrical and remodel industries. His second-generation family owned and operated business located in San Diego, CA serves residential and commercial customers. In his spare time, Don volunteers through various organizations, including the San Diego Fire Rescue Foundation, San Diego Rotary Club 33, and Mt. Helix Park Foundation. Most of all, he enjoys spending time with his family.



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